How to Draw a Cartoon Toucan
In this tutorial, we are going to learn how to draw a cartoon toucan!
Before we begin, if you need information on what equipment to use for cartooning, check out my Recommended Equipment page.
Also, if you are interested in more detailed step-by-step video lessons on how to draw cartoons, check out my Online Courses page.
How do you draw a cartoon toucan? You will need to start with basic shapes. In this tutorial, our toucan has a foundation of the following things:
- four trapeziums (one for its body, one for its tail and two for its feet)
- a circle (for its eye)
- a beak.
If you can draw these – then you can draw a toucan! These birds are flippin’ sweet. They are found in Central America, South America and Froot Loops boxes. Looool!!!
This tutorial is broken up into three parts:
- the Pencil Sketch – laying down the foundation of our toucan using basic shapes
- the Inking Stage – using the foundation as our guide, we should now able to confidently draw in the toucan’s main features with a black pen
- the Coloring Stage – time to bring our toucan to life with some color!
Before we begin, let’s just quickly go over the important traits of our toucan design.
The toucan we will be drawing in this lesson will be 60% body and 40% beak!
We will be basing our design on the Toco Toucan – the largest and best known of the toucan species.
Plumage: Toco Toucans have black plumage with a white throat and chest. However I don’t want to use pure black as it will overpower the image, so instead we will be coloring him in with a dark blue.
Beak: Toucan beaks are awesome! They are long and hooked with a big black spot at the end of them. Our character’s beak will consist of orange and yellow, with a red stripe going around it.
Feet: Not sure if you’ve ever noticed a toucan’s feet – but they are blue. That is fantastic.
The toucan in this tutorial was created in Adobe Photoshop, but you can use pens, pencils, paint – whatever you fancy. If you’re using pencils, make sure you go over your character with two or three layers, as this will make the colors richer and more vivid.
The materials I use when drawing cartoons are as follows:
- Paper (Sketchbook or printer paper)
- Pencil (HB or #2)
- Thick Black Pen (I used a Posca PC-3M)
- Thin Black Pen (I used a UNI Pin Fine Line 04mm)
- Colored Pencils. You can use simple Crayola pencils. Or you can go crazy and splash out on some Faber Castell Albrecht Duhrer Watercolor pencils or Prismacolors.
So those are what I recommend, but ultimately just feel free to use any brand or medium that you may have on hand.
How to Draw a Cartoon Toucan Part 1: the Pencil Sketch
Step 1: Draw two tall trapeziums – a large one on top (for his body) and a small one underneath (for his tail). The right sides of the trapeziums should line up with eachother. These shapes will be refined later on to look like a body and a tail.
Step 2: Draw a circle surrounding the top right corner of the top trapezium – this will be our toucan’s eye
Step 3: Begin your pencil at the top right hand corner. Draw a long curve going upwards to the left and then straight down – this will be the top of our toucan’s beak
Step 4: To complete the beak, draw a straight line connecting with the bottom of the circle
Step 5: For his feet, place two upside-down trapeziums at the bottom of his body
Step 6: Finally draw in some horizontal lines coming out of his feet – this is going to be his branch!
Okay we now have a nice, messy pile of shapes, but ya know what? It kinda looks like a toucan! We are now ready to move onto the inking.
How to Draw a Cartoon Toucan Part 2: the Inking Stage
Time for some inking! Just a few tips before we begin:
- We are not tracing – we are refining our design. The blue lines are merely our foundation for a much more detailed and well-designed character – You’ll see!
- Remember to use line variation (different line thickness) – for example, if you look at our final drawing, the toucan’s outlines are thicker than his feathers and striations on his feet.
- Try and draw quick confident lines – it will add a lot of life into your drawings! If your line work needs improvement, make sure you practice drawing random lines on a scrap piece of paper – you’ll be amazed at how much it helps!
Step 7: The toucan’s feet are the closest things to the viewer – given that they superimpose the branch, his tail and his body, we will need to ink in his feet before we do anything else!
Step 8: Now draw in the branch – things look pretty abstract at this point, but they will start looking like feet clutching onto a branch in step 14!
Step 9: Draw in the eyeball, with a little dot inside for his pupil
Step 10: Ink in the toucan’s straight back. Up until now, the inking has essentially been tracing over the blue lines, but now, we start to go a little bit off road! For his front, instead of drawing a straight line, draw a curvy line – make the line curve in for his neck and curve out for his tummy!
Step 11: Let’s now go down south and put in his tail – follow the straight lines going down to the bottom of the trapezium. Instead of tracing in the trapezium’s base, connect the two sides with the crazy zig zags.
Step 12: Okay, time to spruce up his beak! Draw an S going from the top of this beak to the bottom of his neck
Step 13: This part is a bit tricky – trace the top of his beak with your black pen, but for the bottom, draw in a curved line connecting back to his neck. This will give him a nice hooked toucan beak!
Step 14: We’ve got his overall shape sorted, now add in some details – his toes, wing, chest and his other eye poking out from behind his head. Ooh and most importantly, give him a smile!
Step 15: In this step, get out your thin pen and put in some fine details – give him some nice wavy curves for his plumage and ink in some striations on his toes
Step 16: This step is quite fun – put in some nice dark areas at the tip of his beak, on the branch in the areas surrounding his feet. If you’re a bit nervous, feel free to draw the outline of the shadow first with your thin pen and then fill in the areas with your thick pen. You should now notice your toucan as a lot more depth now – the dark areas around his feet really make them pop out more!
How to Draw a Cartoon Toucan Part 3: the Coloring Stage
Step 17: Here we are putting in the first layer of color. I used dark blue for his plumage, light blue for his feet and red, orange and yellow for his beak. Oh – and brown for his little twig!
His chest has a light cream color – if you don’t have this particular hue in your arsenal, feel free to just leave it white.
Step 18: We are at the final step! There’s not much difference here compared to the previous step. In this step I added some subtle shading in certain areas, as well as putting in a green background. It just makes the character look a little cooler! This character was created digitally using Adobe Photoshop. If you want to achieve this shading effect, simply put a new layer over the image and draw in your shading areas with a dark purple. Then lower the opacity of the shadow layer until you’ve got the desired effect. When I’m shading using pencils, I simply get out a purple pencil and lightly shade in the areas that I want in shadow.
I created this cartoon by looking at reference photos of toucans. I tried to break down its appearance using basic shapes. After a few designs, I settled on the one that you see on this page.
Remember to think big and then go small. Start with big shapes – if your character doesn’t look good at this early stage, then it probably won’t look good when you slap a whole bunch of details on it either! Once you’ve drafted up a rough design that you think looks cool, then go ahead and give it some tender loving black pen and colors!
Once you’ve copied my toucan, feel free to try some of your own designs. Jump on Google and study a few photos that interest you. Then try and simplify your subject down into basic shapes and build it up into your own cartoon character!
I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial, if you are ready to get started with cartooning, feel free to check out some of my online course here : https://www.discovercartooning.com/courses/
Thanks so much for hanging out – I’ll see you in another post soon!